Hamlet Act V - The Final Words


Today we concluded Act 5 both in word and picture, finishing up the movie with the grand cinematic depiction of Hamlet's, Laertes', Claudius', and Gertrudes' death.

Here is the graveyard scene for you to watch. Check below for another video that gives us a different view of Hamlet.

In Act V we see Hamlet grow up - in a mythic sense as Barbara Everett says in Young Hamlet, when we discover that this callow youth is now or in fact (depending on how time works in the play) reached maturity at 30 years of age.

In this scene, Hamlet speaks to the skull of the long dead court jester, Yorrick. As Hamlet muses on the theme of death, many believe that this is what the skull symbolizes in the play. SKULL = DEATH. As Hamlet speaks to the skull in the graveyard, we see him come to grips with mortality, and coming out of this scene we see a more mature Hamlet. When Hamlet discovers that the court has processed to the graveyard to bury his love Ophelia, this galvanizes him to finally put this new found manhood to work.

This maturity causes Hamlet to enter back into the "scene" of Denmark's court with an increased confidence, surety, and purpose. He declares himself to the assembly "I am Hamlet the Dane!" He accosts Laertes and the rest of the court at Ophelia's graveside, staking his claim over her dead body by saying that his love surpasses that of forty thousand brothers.

This new and improved Hamlet is sure of purpose, and no longer temporizes or prevaricates about the justice of his cause. He is no longer acting crazy or setting up tests to decide what is right and wrong. When he accepts Laertes challenge to a duel, he is beautifully eloquent in his apology for his behavior in the play up till now. He explains that it was as if he was not himself until this moment, and he is sorry for all of the harm he has done with his carelessness.

HAMLET

Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

But pardon ’t, as you are a gentleman.

This presence knows,

And you must needs have heard, how I am punished

With sore distraction. What I have done,

That might your nature, honor, and exception

Roughly awake, I here proclaim was madness.

Was ’t Hamlet wronged Laertes? Never Hamlet.

If Hamlet from himself be ta'en away,

And when he’s not himself does wrong Laertes,

Then Hamlet does it not. Hamlet denies it.

Who does it, then? His madness. If’t be so,

Hamlet is of the faction that is wronged.

His madness is poor Hamlet’s enemy.

Sir, in this audience,Let my disclaiming from a purposed evil

Free me so far in your most generous thoughts

That I have shot mine arrow o'er the house

And hurt my brother.

This is a Hamlet who understands the consequences of his actions, takes responsibility for himself, and cares about others.This is truly, in my opinion a grown-up Hamlet. We come into this scene rooting for Hamlet in a way we haven't been able to up to now. And as Everett says, this increases the mythic tragedy of his story as growing up means growing dead - Hamlet's death following so close on the heels of his maturity.

But Hamlet does succeed, and even as we mourn Hamlet's death, there is a sense of fulfillment in the justice served. The extension of forgiveness between Laertes and Hamlet, is an interesting symbol of this absolution. Everything is done, all have paid who needed to pay, and the least guilty (those who were not intrinsically wicked) will not be punished after death. There is a sense of wholesomeness to the ending, even if a tragic one


Watch a parody video of Arnold as Hamlet here.


"The rest", as Hamlet says..."is silence".

Oh, except for the corrupt wheel of power that must keep turning. Enter Fortinbras.